Every month, menstruating humans around the world go through what can best be described as an emotional and physical roller coaster. With ups and downs, twist and turns, the hormone cycle is a big contributor to our highest and lowest moods throughout the month.
Thankfully though, the levels of our hormones follow a pretty predictable pattern and with a little homework, you can be ready for every curve ball this ride is going to throw at you. So strap in and let’s go! (We’re using cat gifs to illustrate our point – because who understands the importance of naps and hissy fits better than those guys?)
*If you aren’t not taking birth control/hormonal medication/are pregnant.
Week 1 is going to kick off with A) your period (yay!) and B) all of your hormones at a monthly low. You will likely be experiencing cramping, bloating, breast tenderness and general fatigue. Towards the end of this first week, as your period draws to a close, you might feel like you’re gaining a whole new lease of life. This is due to the reappearance of estrogen and testosterone in your body. Estrogen helps to produce serotonin and endorphins, and contributes to you feeling much sharper and happier. Testosterone also reappears in your system, kick starting your libido and making you feel more than a little frisky. Time to shake off those potato chip crumbs, and get out of bed, boo!
Those good vibes you started to feel in Week 1 roll over into Week 2, as estrogen and testosterone continue to rise – woohoo! In the run-up to ovulation (usually day 14) your fertility peaks and your libido hits its monthly high. Estrogen is making you your most chatty, confident and clever self. Beware, though, as this boost in mental agility can also lead to anxiety. It will also boost endorphin production, meaning that exercising in Week 2 could be particularly gratifying.
Testosterone continues to rev up your wild side, and you may find yourself feeling more impulsive, competitive and daring. This feeling won’t last though, as day 14 is where ovulation occurs – and your hormones take a dip for the first time since Week 1.
Post ovulation, your 5 star mood takes a bit of a hit. Not only do estrogen and testosterone plunge, but progesterone starts to climb. *Just in case* your newly released egg has been fertilized, your body wants to fully prepare you for pregnancy. Progesterone can makes you feel super snugly, and you might notice yourself feeling sleepy, quiet and not very interested in socializing.
On top of this, progesterone can dull your mental clarity, as well as making you crave everything sugary and salty (and delicious…). This hormone also causes your uterus to produce the endometrium – the thick lining of your uterus which will eventually be shed through menstruation. All in all, Week 3 is a pretty good time to stay home and get reacquainted with your good friend Netflix.
The ride ain’t over yet! Week 4 is where the hormones really hit the fan. During the final 6 days of your cycle, estrogen and progesterone take a nosedive. The hospitable environment your endometrium has created for the possibility of a fertilized egg is about to be done away with – ready for the cycle to begin all over again.
Week 4 is also home to the dreaded PMS. As estrogen plummets, so do your serotonin levels, making you super susceptible to a case of the blues. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why PMS occurs, but it’s likely a combination of hormonal, chemical and nutritional factors. If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome, then you are likely all too aware of the most common symptoms; emotional sensitivity, fatigue, cramps, bloating, stomach upset, tender breasts, acne, food cravings…ugh.
Hold tight though, as PMS generally doesn’t last longer than a couple of days for most people. Those depleted hormones are about to make a big old comeback for Week 1… are you ready?
So there we have it – the monthly hormone cycle in all its glory. Now you know all the highs and lows you can expect along the way, you can take the fear out of the journey and treat it as the super exciting ride that it is!
Gifs from Giphy
Please note that advice offered by Tips For Healthy Living may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.